On Thursday morning at around 10am Governor Sandoval signed a bill that is likely to rejuvenate the solar industry in Nevada. Bringing thousands of jobs, boosting the economy, increasing renewable energy and improving the environment.

Bill AB 405 will see a return of roof-top solar to Nevada through an improved net metering rate which had previously been cut in 2015 causing the industry to stall. AB 405 will allow rooftop solar customers to be reimbursed for excess generation from a solar system at 95 percent of the retail electricity rate (100% until September 1st). The system works on a sliding scale with four tiers, where credit rates decrease in 7 percent increments for every 80 megawatts of rooftop solar generation deployed — to a floor of 75 percent of the retail rate. The rate will be guaranteed for 20 years from installation.

The legislation ensures that net metering will remain law in the event Nevada voters decide to deregulate the state’selectricity market. It also mandates that residential solar and energy storage customers cannot be treated as a separate rate class, which means these customers cannot be hit with higher fees for investing in distributed energy.

With solar now a financially viable option for customers it is expected that the solar business will boom. When the net metering rate was originally cut it led to the loss of thousands of jobs with many companies going out of business. The signing of this bill is testament to the hard work and collaboration of all of the small solar companies, non-profits and the public who rallied and lobbied to get a fair deal. This approach backed up with money from larger national and international businesses proved highly effective and highlighted Nevadan’s desire to push towards a more sustainable future.

Governor Sandoval spoke passionately about the bill that he felt could propel Nevada into the spotlight, attracting businesses, boosting the economy and placing Nevada at the forefront of clean energy policy globally. A number of Senators and Assemblymen were gathered to witness the signing, seeing all of their hard work come to fruition. Notably Senator Pat Spearman, Assemblyman Chris Brooks and Senator Kelvin Atkinson who were accompanied by local solar installers, non-profit groups, press and manufacturers. All of whom were delighted at the final outcome of a long hard battle.

Governor Sandoval also signed two further energy bills, both put forward by Senator Pat Spearman. SB 146 looks to authorize the Public Utilities Commission to require certain Utilities to file a Distributed Resource Plan (DRP) as part of their Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The DRP considers environmental and economic benefits and aims to optimize benefits of resources on the distribution system. It identifies barriers to distributed resources, ensuring cost-effectiveness, efficiency and environmental benefits.

SB 150 requires the PUCN to set goals for energy efficiency that includes access to low-income families. Each plan must be designed to be cost-effective and meet the annual energy saving goals as set by the Commission.

It has been a highly exciting and successful legislative session for clean energy policy with a number of bills being passed, covering net-metering, storage, energy efficiency, resource planning and clean energy finance. There are however two bills yet to be signed. AB 206 which looks to set a target of 40% renewable energy by 2030 and SB 392 which looks to establish community energy in Nevada. The bills have passed through both houses but still require Governor Sandoval to sign.

This is an immensely exciting time for sustainability in Nevada. This legislative session is pushing the State in the right direction as they look to lead the nation and set new standards.

About the Author: Dan Turner

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